31 March 2006


As I've noted here before, I don't always enjoy waxing all fulminatory about this world's seemingly limitless supply of outrages, indignities, injustices, and offences to common sense and good taste. And I can't even use the "It's a tough job but someone has to do it" excuse, since both the blogosphere and talk radio are absolutely replete with commentators at least as outraged and grumpy as I could ever hope to be. So I have to reluctantly conclude that there's at least a part of me that rather likes getting my knickers in a twist.

What I don't like is the aftereffects: I stay up late at night composing diatribes, denouncing people, places, things and situations, citing examples, making analogies and then torturing them within an inch of their lives, and when I've finally produced a screed of sufficient bile and pushed the "publish" button, I walk away wondering, "What was that all about?" Especially since half the time I was just flailing away at some boring and thoroughly predictable topic like French people, Islamofascists, criminals, corrupt and incompetent politicians, lousy public transport and the weather.

Geez, now that I think of it, that covers considerably more than half of my output. In fact, if I were one of my readers, I might be on the verge of asking for my money back. So while I don't think I can totally abandon my complaints and criticisms - all jokes aside, the threat posed by Islamofascism is pretty serious stuff - I'm going to try to keep them a bit more condensed, and leave more room for other, possibly more upbeat subjects. Yeah, I know, sounds implausible, but I'll give it a go.

So, one-paragraph rant on recent evils: Islamists claim Tony Blair is "Islamophobic" because he points out that their desire to impose a totalitarian way of life on the world is at odds with the traditions of liberal democracy. They're wrong, he's right. John Prescott, the buffoonish yet occasionally oddly endearing Deputy Prime Minister, wants to tear down a couple hundred thousand perfectly good terrace houses and replace them with ugly new houses, much as his soulless predecessors did in the 60s and 70s, wreaking more havoc on British cities than four years of German bombers. He's being taken to court about it; let's hope he loses. Banksy, the articulate but obnoxious graffiti "artist," argues that painting over graffiti in preparation for Melbourne's Commonwealth Games represents a form of cultural whitewash that might be repeated in London as the 2012 Olympics approach. He's wrong about graffiti, wrong about Mel-boring (as Sydneysiders love to call it), but let's hope he's right about London. A Guardian letter-writer explains as well as I could why Banksy's retro-hippie/anarchist philosophy is a pile of crap. Walking back from Portobello this morning, I strolled past the Mau-Mau Bar and mused, for at least the hundredth time, why it's "cool" to name a club after one gang of racist murderers and not another. I mean, why no "KKK Bar"? Similarly, why is there a bar named after the KGB and not after the SS? Why are Guevara and Mao countercultural icons and not Goebbels or Hitler? And one last note on the subject of bars: there's one in my street that advertises that it "takes you back to London in the swinging 60s, where you can re-enact your favourite scene from Withnail And I." Just what do they mean, I wonder? That the bar is grotty, dirty, smelly, and populated by self-indulgent and self-centred prats? I've never cared to step inside to investigate, but as it happens, I used to frequent that same bar, in a different incarnation, during the 1970s. Which, as anyone knows, were merely a bulbous canker on the backside of the 1960s. It was grotty, dirty, smelly and populated by self-indulgent and self-centred prats. Plus que ca change...

Okay, I cheated; that wasn't a proper paragraph, but at least I tried. It's the weekend now, and I'm off: football at Craven Cottage tomorrow as we host Portsmouth, then to Bristol to meet up with Danny and Bella in preparation for the Sunday reconvening of the West Country Walking Society, this time in Swanage, Dorset. The weather promises to be suitably foul.

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